Beauty surrounds us.

Fall is my favorite season of the year.  The air is crisp; the trees are in brilliant colors of red, orange, and yellows.  This time of year is the perfect time to sit out on my deck in the early morning with that first cup of coffee, watching the sunrise and breathing in the smell of fallen leaves on the ground.

It also begins my time of reflection for the year. Reflecting on what my expectations were for the year vs. the state of things as they exist today — reality, those things that we can and cannot see. 

As I reflect on the past year and the expectations, I set for myself; I found a valuable lesson.  Always expect the unexpected.  I am retired, enjoying the quiet days to myself while the hubby is at work.  I joined a writer’s group, belong to a social women’s group and love to spend the early morning hours on my deck starting my day journaling, then moving to spend the day working on my Ignited Secrets Trilogy.  I enjoy the fact the children are doing well; the grandchildren are all now in college and life is good.  My expectation?  I am going to become a full-time author.  What better way to spend retirement, right?

Then life happens.  As we age, our parents get older, and we must ensure they safe, healthy, and happy.  My siblings and I did for our mother, who passed nine years ago.  I had lost my dad when I was twenty-one.  My mother in law suffers from mid-stage Alzheimer’s.  She had been living with her daughter for the past four years.  Life changed for them.  Her husband took a new job in another State.  Therefore, our life changed; someone needed to step up and care for mom full time.  Mom has moved in permanently until which time she needs twenty-four-hour care. 

Expectations vs. Reality.  I still take the time to journal early each morning, but most of my writing is now happening on my kitchen table, rather than my sacred space in the garage.  Yes, I had my hubby build me an office/quilting room in the garage.  What was once a two-car garage, became a one-car garage.  By writing at my kitchen table, I can answer the multitude of questions my mother in law has throughout the day. 

It amazes me to watch her, realizing she is in the moment.  A place most of us strive to be.  Though for her, that moment is all she has.  No five-minute past, no one-minute future.  Yesterday while the President was on every channel of the television for most of the day, she was trying to figure out what he was talking about and why he seemed angry.  Mom is 87, and her generation listened when the President talked.  Then she wanted to know why someone didn’t fix the lighting. He looked orange.  I covered these questions a hundred different times yesterday as if it was the first time she had asked.  I became creative; how do you explain today’s world? 

Here I am in my season of reflection, adjusting my expectations, and making new expectations for the year to come.  I write out my hopes, beliefs, and my dreams for the future.  Similar to New Year’s resolutions, though I learned long ago I do not stick to resolutions.  Hence the new word expectations. 

I split them out in three categories, my hopes for my grandchildren and how I can assist them in their direction.  That can be anywhere from financially to embroidering them a new set of dish towels for their new apartments as they start their life path.  I reflect on my written life mission and vision statement, making the changes needed to stay current.

 I then spell out my dreams for the year, what do I want to accomplish as a writer, how many quilts do I want to make this year or finish, and what growth do I want to see in my self for the year.  These are my goals.  Simple right? 

My signal for reflection is the changing of the leaves, my sign for setting expectations is the first snowfall and breaking my goals down to achieve success begins December first to be prepared to start the New Year with a bang.

Everyone has different ways of continuing their journey through life.  I find mine works for me.  I encourage everyone to find their way to make each new year the best year of their life.  For mom, I fully intend to make this next year a year of feeling safe, happy and fresh-baked cookies on the counter every day. 

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